The SGA hosted a debate between Baltimore County executive candidates Al Redmer Jr. and Johnny Olszewski Jr. on Oct. 15. In the debate, the two candidates brought different experiences and showed different visions for the county.
Redmer, a Republican, has had 45 years of experience in both private and public jobs. He was a volunteer firefighter, served as the President of the Perry Hall Improvement Association, served as a representative for District 8 in the House of Delegates and served as Maryland Insurance Commissioner. His opponent, Olszewski, spent seven years teaching in Baltimore County public schools and served on the Baltimore County House delegation at the age of 23, making him the youngest chairman to have ever served on the Baltimore County House Delegation.
In his platform, Olszewski promises universal pre-K, two billion dollars to renovate schools, expansion of tuition-free community college and a 20 percent pay raise for teachers. In contrast, Redmer talked about “fixing the problem we already have” and believes Baltimore does not have the money to spend on these new programs while keeping other promises. He also stated that his opponent would have to raise taxes or borrow money to pay for all these new programs. On education, Redmer says, “50 percent of kids that graduate need remedial education and kids with special needs aren’t getting the services they deserve; rather than spending new money on new things, it is better to redouble our efforts and do what we are supposed to do and get it right.” Redmer’s platform promises to fight corruption in the County Council and school boards, stop over-development and promote better services like waste management and code enforcement.
In regards to the issues and sexual assault allegations pertaining to UMBC, the candidates kept their answers short but to the point. Redmer talked about transparency and fighting cronyism. Olszewski went personal with his answer; he talked about having a little daughter and creating an environment where she can feel safe coming forward if something like that ever happens to her.
One highlight of the debate was the candidates’ answer to the question: “Do you support your party’s candidate for Governor?” Redmer, who is endorsed by Governor Hogan, said that Hogan is “engaged and committed to changing Maryland for the better. He avoids partisan battles and finds common sense solutions.” Olszewski began his answer by taking a jab at his opponent and said, “It comes as no surprise; Al supports President Trump and his party … I am a Democrat, so I support Democratic candidates.”
Overall, the debate gave the two candidates a valuable opportunity to lay out their visions for the county despite the underwhelming turnout for the event. More information on the candidates and their stances are available on their websites.